Bateman, Di Risio opening ‘two chic stores in one’ downtown
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Bateman, Di Risio opening ‘two chic stores in one’ downtown

Apr 18, 2016

BATAVIA — Standing in a storefront packed with vintage-inspired dresses, home decor and gifts, Ashley Bateman and Leanna Di Risio shared a tinge of pain and a shot of excitement each time the locked door at 202 Main is rattled.

Their boutique, home to Bateman’s Pollyanna & Dot clothing store and Di Risio’s The Hidden Door home decor business, will be unlocked at 11 a.m. Saturday for a grand opening. The duo said they can sense the interest with each disappointed pull. They are eager to let customers experience the sensory overload inside.

“My goal is to have people need to come around two, three times before they feel they’ve seen everything,” Di Risio said, “and see something new every time you come. We’re constantly bringing in new ideas, new concepts, not just restocking the same inventory.”

For Di Risio, the sense of having “the only” version of something carries through the flea market finds, re-purposed furniture and reproduction pieces. Bateman carries the idea through in racks that line most of the store.

“I only order one size of every (dress), and that’s it,” Bateman said. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Her inspiration, and the name for her business, comes from her grandmothers, whose photos hang above a wall.

“Looking back at the old photos, they look so chic and classic, they wouldn’t be out of place today if they walked out of those pictures,” said Bateman, who models her style off the cuts, quality and versatility of old dresses. “I started wearing dresses almost exclusively. ... These can be closet staples for women, They can be worn with flip flops in the summer, or you can put on a pair of heels and a necklace and wear them to a wedding.”

Among the lines she stocks are Bernie Dexter, Lindy Bop, Effie’s Heart, and Emily and Fin — a London designer that has just 14 retailers in the U.S. — along with prom and children’s dresses.

The Hidden Door draws inspiration from the idea of revealing a layered design in small pieces. She stocked up during a trip to Atlanta, where she emerged from a three-building, 20-story home decor hub with a wealth of stories to tell in her products.

“I’m creating a story on my shelf that makes you want to buy it because it’s put together and tells a story,” Di Risio said. “It’s so fun for me to able to share that and for me to call that my job. To shop for my store — it’s the best job ever.”

For both entrepreneurs, this is the direct launch of their ventures, going straight from idea-to-implementation. Bateman said Mary Valley, a friend of both, played match-maker, and Dave Howe, who they rent from, is the incubator.

Di Risio and Bateman’s businesses are separate entities that blend together in a space adjacent to the Charles Men’s Shop. Both said they want to carry the same level of service in helping customers style their homes and fashion.

“We want to be more than retail,” Bateman said.

“When the conversations started, it felt like something that was unique and fitting for both of us,” Di Risio said. “Most of all, our stuff works together.”

As the clock ticks down to their opening, both businesses look like they are double-barreling their offerings. Bateman said her racks are wincing from everything she’s thrown on them, ready for a little breathing room to form before more custom orders arrive. Di Risio is able to rotate her offerings and a refreshing will follow the deluge they expect to greet Saturday.

“I think our grand opening will have so many people, but (the store) can be more appreciated when people have time to browse,” Di Risio said.

Pollyanna & Dot and The Hidden Door, 202 E. Main St., is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Fridays 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Jim Krencik, Batavia Daily News

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